My friend and I turned up separately to a bbq the other day both carrying the same style of basket. In fact she had given mine to me for a gift many years ago when she had bought hers. Here's the thing: my friend's basket was in beautiful nick - she has always been neat and tidy and thorough. It even still has the fold marks in it where she mindfully folds it back away into the cupboard when she is not using it. Mine was looking very much worse for wear - scratched, and bit of dirt on it, usually put on top of a cupboard on the back verandahwhen not in use.
It got me thinking about messiness. I used to feel like a messy, not as good version compared to my friend. But I've realised yesterday that I don't any more. I may still be messy, but it really doesn't matter whether I am or not. My comparison envy was never useful and now I know I don't need to have it. My messiness helps me be creative, not bound by structures that inhibit my thinking and flow. I put structure and tidiness in where I need it, but I am getting more and more understanding of where I don't need it - in fact in impedes my creative flow.
Tim Harford, author of Messy - How to Be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World ( one of my favourite books ;)) says:
'But often we are so seduced by the blandishments of tidiness that we fail to appreciate the virtues of the messy, the untidy, unquantified, uncoordinated, improvised, imperfect, incoherent, crude, cluttered, random, ambiguous, vague, difficult, diverse or even dirty. The scripted speech misreads the energy of the room; the careful commander is disoriented by a more impetuous opponent; the writer is serendipitously inspired by a random distraction; the quantified targets create perverse incentives, the workers in the tidy office feel helpless and demotivated; a disruptive outsider aggravates the team but brings a fresh new insight. The worker with the messy inbox ultimately gets more done; we find a soulmate when we ignore the website questionnaires; the kids running loose in the wasteland not only have more fun and learn more skills, but also - counterintuitively - have fewer accidents.'
Are you crippled by comparison? It's a weight that does us little good and serves to keep us thinking and acting small. Whether in your personal or professional life, we need the diversity, we need the neat, tidy, planned thinking and the messy, divergent, spontaneous kind.
It's who you are a person that matters and that what you do works for what you are trying to do in the world- not how grotty your food basket is.